you're reading...
ICT Technology for 21st Century learners', Leadership & innovation., Teaching & Learning

The role of MOOCs in schools – do they have their place?

I’ve become increasingly interested in the evolution of ‘MOOCs’ as they emerge, branded as the potential future of education, but do they have a role in schools? I thought I’d share my views as I look into this at my School. Probably one of the most significant developments in education in recent years, MOOCs (massive open online courses) are free to users and extremely cheap for providers to deliver. The notion of flexible, blended learning is at the forefront of the advantages here, opening up education to a vast audience, hence the reason they have been labelled as potential game-changers. So what exactly is a MOOC in simple terms, this YouTube clip explains:


MOOCs appear to have been slow to take of in a school setting and I have been considering why? Like anything relatively new, teething problems and evidence based decisions/developments are relied upon by many before they ‘dip their toe’ into the pond.  Based on the evidence from research I have been reading, drop-out rates are high and the suitability of the course content is questionable for some students. Assessment  is also difficult with regards to plagiarism and the potential for cheating.

The DFE has released a report exploring the potential for MOOCs in schools. And while MOOCs may have their uses, the study indicates that their use in the medium term is as a supplement to, rather than a replacement for, classroom teachers, which is nice to hear! Fear not, my personal view is that like all emerging trends, they have their place as a supplement to enhancing the blended learning strand and 21st century learning experience for all students. I would suggest that a MOOC, with appropriate and challenging content could free up more exploratory aspects of an engaging pedagogy during face to face lesson times and used to follow up with reinforcement and extended strands of learning. Another consideration is that a MOOC is used to deliver aspects of a more rounded Curriculum that isn’t necessarily an accountability measure under the current Government framework. This poses two questions:

Are we re-packaging current blended learning practices for example Google sites/docs or a VLE?

Who are we building our MOOC for? Are we extending our curriculum beyond the student population of our own School? If so, this could be a positive step forward for Schools to collaborate on a regional, national and international level.

Of course, focusing on our own students, advances could really move forward the co-construction of learning as a collaboration between students and teacher, as students begin to write and deliver their own MOOC’s. Food for thought and I’d love to hear your experiences/views on this….

“Disruptive or transformative innovation is about creating a new or fundamentally different product or service that disrupts existing markets and displaces formerly dominant technologies.” – Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner



About garysking

Deputy Headteacher - leader of Teaching & Learning. Change maker and believer in quality first teaching.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow me on Twitter

Follow Gary King on

Enter your email address to follow Gary's educational blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: